A note to parents of autistic children

By Ryan Lee
Ryan Lee wearing a blue shirt and holding candy

This post is by Ryan Lee. Follow him on Instagram, check out his YouTube channel and visit his website.

Being born in 1991, autism wasn’t really understood back then. Even though I had speech therapy classes in elementary school, autism was underdiagnosed, meaning mostly a blip on the radar. You didn’t hear about support groups, special training for educators, clinical studies, ABA therapy and IEPs - all you got was a diagnosis. My parents had a hard time figuring out the autistic world and it kind of took its toll on everyone.  

They would receive notes from teachers saying I was off task a lot. When I got in trouble and my parents would try to talk to me, but i just shut down even though I wanted to explode and lash out. I didn’t have a full understanding of myself back then to say the least. Although we know much more about autism these days, there are still plenty of kids on the spectrum who don’t feel understood. I’m here with a message to all parents and caregivers of autistic children; be open to a new way of thinking.  

When your child is newly diagnosed, don’t think of it as a burden or a curse, rather life going in a different direction. For people on the spectrum like me, we sometimes do things differently. Most of us don’t want to be like everyone else, we just want to be ourselves. When you tell your child you love them, make sure you really mean it. It’s one thing for you to feel it, but make sure they do as well. They say it’s easy to share your feelings with people who you love, but that’s not always the case. It’s just so hard to be validated sometimes, especially by those closest to us.  

When listening to autistic children, whatever age they may be, remember there isn’t one single autistic voice. You may not understand what your autistic child is going through at every turn, but they still need your support and your love. Those on the spectrum may not grow up to be normal teenagers or adults, but we can still live great lives. The thing is, none of us are normal, really. We’re all unique and flawed in our own ways, but if we take the time to listen to each other, we can make the world a better place, not just for the autism community, but for everyone. 

 I’m not perfect, and I don’t always make the best choices, but being on the spectrum is already perfect in its own way. Being who we are, not what we should be, is the life we’re meant to live. 

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